Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Rant #953: Coming Out Day
A few weeks ago, I made some comments on a cover of Sports Illustrated featuring voluptuous model Kate Upton.
That cover was her "busting out" day, for sure.
Today I am going to make some comments about another Sports Illustrated cover, this one featuring an athlete's "coming out" day.
Jason Collins, a journeyman player in the NBA who last played with the Washington Wizards and is currently a free agent, came out yesterday, telling the world that he is gay.
He is the first current player in one of the four major team sports to come out as being gay--major male team sports specifically, as I believe a few players in the all-female WNBA have come out--and some are looking at him as a pioneer of sorts.
He got congratulatory messages for his coming out from everybody from Presidents Obama and Clinton to the First Lady, to Kobe Bryant and many other sports and show business celebrities.
Why did he come out now?
The 12-year veteran and Sports Illustrated fully knew what they were doing by having him do this now, which makes it a calculating maneuver on both of their parts.
The NBA is at the height of its yearly frenzy now.
The playoffs are on, and the sports world is tuned in to the exploits of teams like the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, and all the teams that are in the mix to win the league championship.
The Washington Wizards are not in that mix, having a pretty woeful season, preparing for the draft lottery.
So he, and Sports Illustrated, got the biggest bang for their buck, and that is something that has to be taken into account here.
Would Collins have come out right now if the Wizards were in the playoffs?
Very, very doubtful. It would have thrown the playoffs, and his team's chances, into a sideshow next to his admission.
But Collins did what he did now, with the Wizards out of it and his own NBA future in doubt.
Collins is a journeyman player, has never been much of an impact player, but has had a nice career. He has nothing to be ashamed of.
As a player, he is one of the few groups of players who has been in the NBA with his twin. Jason and Jarron--Jarron is the same type of player as his brother, also having a good, but unspectacular career--join the Van Arsdale twins and the current Lopez twins in this select group.
Anyway, what about his admission?
Look, there is no doubt in my mind that he is not the only professional athlete who is gay. Heck, there are probably dozens of others.
But he is the first current, active athlete to admit as such, so he is taking a major chance here.
He is a fringe player, and I am sure he will be fighting for a job next season with some team.
He has gone through a dozen years of not bringing this up. I am sure there were some players who knew about this already, and it really didn't matter to them.
Nor should it really matter to anyone else.
If he is on the team that I root for, and he has the ball at the last seconds of a game, and if he is lucky enough to hit the winning shot, well, he is a hero, a hero not only to me, but to all the fans of my team.
If he misses, well, he is a bum just like anybody else. Better luck next time.
And that is the way it should be. That is the way sports is, and I am sure that Collins would agree with that 100 percent.
And I have to tell you, I don't like the comparisons at all to Jackie Robinson.
Robinson went in as the first black player in the major leagues.
He couldn't hide being black, he couldn't cover it up.
He wore it on his face, and on his sleeve, so to speak.
Collins has been in the league a dozen years, and he was able to hide his sexuality.
Sure, I bet he is now going to be subject to taunts from fellow players and from fans, but please, do not ever equate what he did to what Robinson did, as so many people are stating right now.
Robinson was a true pioneer, for not only blacks, but anyone of any color, creed or background. What he did during a time in our history where tolerance was not within most of our society will live for the ages.
Today, we are in a more tolerant period than 70 years ago. People look past a person's color and sexuality, to a great extent. We have a black president, and many states have given the green light to gay marriage.
I am not saying that Collins will get a full pass here. He will hear it, you know that.
But to come out like this, when he may be at the end of his career anyway, well please, don't compare him to Jackie Robinson, who had to endure this throughout his career with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Collins did a brave thing, but let's put it in context.
Collins is not Robinson, he is not Hank Greenberg, and he is not any of the group of players who were the first black players in the NBA.
His coming out may have actually ended his career, and I think he is smart enough to know that.
But give him kudos for doing what he did, and let's move on.
(Just as an add-on to this, and I must admit, I totally forgot about this until hours after I wrote this Rant, but Jason Collins is not the first professional male team player to come out as being gay. Years ago, baseball player Glenn Burke, who played briefly for the Dodgers and Angels in the late 1970s, came out, but only to teammates, never publicly. His story only became known to the outside world when he proclaimed his sexuality just prior to dying of AIDS in 1995 and through his autobiography.
I am sorry I totally forgot about this when I wrote this up, but here it is, and if you want more information, go to your favorite search engine and put his name in. You will find that his story was even more interesting than the one that Collins has told us.)
Posted by Larry at 2:56 AM